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Des chartes aux constitutions

 | 
François Foronda
, 
Jean-Philippe Genet

Partie II. Laboratoires de constitutionnalité

Constitutions, State and Estates: Interactions between Princely Restrictions and Reforms, Privileges of the Governed and the Control of Absolute Power in the Burgundian Low Countries

Jonas Braekevelt

Texte intégral

1In 1477, the Estates of the Low Countries managed to obtain from Duchess Mary of Burgundy several solemn privileges that confirmed and protected the rights of her subjects. These privileges have often been considered as constitutional, or at least proto-constitutional texts, provoked by the authoritarian rule of her predecessor as well as influenced by local traditions of popular representation. In this contribution, I intend to demonstrate that these privileges were also rooted in previous ducal legislation and reforms, and that their key importance lies in their, albeit half-hearted, attempt to separate and limit the prince’s absolute powers from his ordinary prerogatives.

Flemish and Brabantine traditions of contractual government before 1477

  • 1 For a historiographical overview of these views, see M. Boone, “‘In den beginne was het woord’: de (...)

2Belgian and Dutch historiography has long devoted considerable attention to the supposed “constitutional” aspects of government within the geographical and chronological scope of the (late) medieval Low Countries. By tracing back expressions of the notion of popular sovereignty to 12th-century Flanders or by highlighting the existence, from the early 14th century onwards, of several Brabantine General Privileges – the so-called joyous entries –, historians have tried to identify a regional tradition of the “political contract” that governed the relations between rulers and subjects to a considerable degree1.

  • 2 On this notion of a “Burgundian State”, see, among others, J.-M. Cauchies, “État bourguignon ou éta (...)
  • 3 For the critical edition of this document, see W. Blockmans, M.-A. Arnould, E. Strubbe, “Privilegie (...)
  • 4 J. Haemers, For the Common Good? State Power and Urban Revolts in the Reign of Mary of Burgundy, 14 (...)
  • 5 See W. Blockmans, “Du contrat féodal à la souveraineté du peuple. Les précédents de la déchéance de (...)

3This constitutional tradition was often seen to have been consecrated in 1477, right at the end of the Burgundian period that had witnessed the inclusion of most of the ancient, independent principalities of the Low Countries into a nascent, albeit composite, Early Modern State2. In that year Mary of Burgundy, sole heiress to Duke Charles the Bold, was forced to issue a single General Privilege, granting fundamental freedoms and rights to the inhabitants and the Estates of the entire Burgundian Low Countries3. This General Privilege on the one hand marked the end of the authoritarian rule of the late duke, while on the other hand it confirmed the unity of the governed in their support of the beleaguered Burgundian dynasty4. As such, the General Privilege of 1477 and its various regional equivalents and additions would serve as a crucial point of reference more than a century later, in the famous Act of Abjuration of 15815. Although this renunciation of the rule of Philip II by the Estates General of the Netherlands in itself does not really qualify as a constitutional document, it did elevate the previous charters of Mary of Burgundy to such a position, making clear that their prolonged violation by the princely government provided a legitimate cause to renounce their loyalty to the Habsburg dynasty.

  • 6 On these events, see F. Ganshof, “Les origines du concept de souveraineté nationale en Flandre”, Re (...)
  • 7 R. Van Caenegem, “De keure van Sint-Omaars van 1127: een politiek document”, Bulletin de la Commiss (...)
  • 8 W. Blockmans, “Du contrat féodal…”, op. cit., p. 147.

4This vision is without a doubt not a mere fiction, although its strong teleological character can, should and has been criticised. It is true that in 12th-­century Flanders the dynastic crisis following the murder of Count Charles the Good in 1127, revealed that the Flemish urban elites and nobility were quite able to formulate a discourse that defended the notion of popular sovereignty6. They were likewise able to pressure the newly appointed count, Wilhelm Clito, in granting them privileges that emphasised his own subservience to the law: notably in a charter for the city of Saint-Omer, Clito stated that rulings and statutes of the local aldermen would bind et erga me ipsum, a formula somewhat reminiscent of the famous Roman law Digna vox (cod.1.14.4)7. Finally, they did not hesitate to elect a new count – notwithstanding the objections made by their feudal overlord, the King of France – when Clito rescinded on his earlier promises and took on an all too authoritarian political course, thus claiming for themselves a legal jus resistendi8.

  • 9 Cited and contextualised by R. Van Caenegem, “Le problème des chartes de libertés”, in Album Elemér (...)
  • 10 Or at least stemmed from an original delegation of power by the people to the prince, as voiced by (...)
  • 11 M. Boone, “The Desired Stranger: Attraction and Expulsion in the Medieval City”, in L. Lucassen, W. (...)
  • 12 See the comments of J.-M. Cauchies, “Jean sans Peur, comte de Flandre (1405-1419), législateur”, in (...)
  • 13 That the Flemish cities never felt the need to obtain a more general, inclusive concession from the (...)
  • 14 The aldermen, guild deans or other members of the urban political elite or “middle class” often did (...)
  • 15 For a historiographical discussion of such 19th-century viewpoints, see E. Bousmar, “Siècle de Bour (...)

5Nevertheless, this was hardly a truly exceptional situation. For example, the contemporary Suger, the great political advisor of Louis VI, stated likewise that the prince should honour the law and his own previous decrees, cum et rex et lex eandem imperandi excipiant majestatem9. Besides, the general notion that comital government was consensual10, subjected to upholding the law and defending the rights and interests of the governed, did not find its translation in any defined document or General Privilege comparable with other European 12th- or early 13th-century chartes de libertés: there never existed any kind of “Flemish Magna Carta”. The relations between the counts of Flanders and their subjects were regulated first and foremost by specific privileges and laws issued to individual cities or communities11, a situation that still held true even in the 15th century12. The Flemish cities, castellanies and guilds also referred first and foremost to these privileges – quite literally privatae leges – in their conflicts with the princely administration13. With the reception of Roman Law from the 14th century onwards, these would occasionally be backed-up by more general legal maxims, but still without referring to the specific historical precedents of the 1127-1228 dynastic crisis14. Therefore the 1477 General Privileges of Mary of Burgundy can hardly be seen as the inevitable outcome of some long-winding Flemish “constitutional Sonderweg15”.

  • 16 P. Gorissen, “Het charter en de Raad van Kortenberg”, Revue belge de philologie et d’histoire, 31, (...)
  • 17 G. Van Dievoet, L’empereur Joseph II et la Joyeuse Entrée de Brabant: les dernières années de la co (...)

6The case of the duchy of Brabant presents us with a somewhat different case. Although Brabant generally lagged somewhat behind in (urban and political) development compared to Flanders, it did witness the successive expedition of several general ducal charters from the early 14th century onwards. These confirmed, or sometimes also attributed new rights to the Three Estates of the duchy. Applicable to the major urban centres as well as to the inhabitants and communities of the Brabantine countryside, they are sometimes designated as landcharters16, although beginning with the 1356 document granted at the accession of duke Wenceslas they are more commonly referred to as the joyous entries. Often considered by historians of the medieval and early modern Low Countries as making up the region’s first constitutional tradition – the entries were reissued and confirmed by each of the successive Brabant rulers up until the very end of the Ancien Régime17 – their exact character nevertheless remains highly ambiguous.

  • 18 See J. Van der Straeten, Het charter en de Raad van Kortenberg, vol. 2: Aanhangsels, Leuven, Univer (...)
  • 19 A comparison of the different, subsequent joyous entries from 1356 up till the 1430 expedition by P (...)

7The Brabantine joyous entries first and foremost defended the individual, ancient rights and privileges of the different Estates, rather than truly limiting or proscribing the power and prerogatives of the duke as a princeps. Their frame of mind also stayed essentially feudal, ignoring or at least disregarding such notions as the sovereign power of the prince. The 1312 charter of Kortenberg, that started off the long string of Brabant landcharters, e.g. protected the age-old fiscal exemptions of the nobility and their seigniories, by stating that aides should only be levied on occasion of the three “classic” occurrences, namely knighthood, marriage or the captivity of the duke18. Later joyous entries granted by the successive dukes of Brabant did address specific princely intrusions and novelties that had been introduced during their predecessors reign, but they did so only on a very ad-hoc basis19.

  • 20 geloven wij hen goet gerecht ende getruwe heer te sine ende egheen cracht ofte wille aen hen te doe (...)
  • 21 Antwerp and Mechelen had long disputed their respective staple rights and the free navigation on th (...)
  • 22 De Dynter had already been engaged in ducal service since the reign of duke Anthony (1406-1415) and (...)

8The more general stipulations included in the joyous entries, however, remained essentially legal-political commonplaces, like the first article in the 1430 expedition in which the duke promised his subjects to “dispense them good justice and to be a loyal lord, without using arbitrary force nor detaining them outside of law and judgment20” – i.e. the ideal of the princeps judex that every medieval ruler was supposed to meet. Such a viewpoint is also reflected in a number of dispositions of both Brabantine and Flemish officials recorded in 1433, against the background of a bitter, at times even extrajudicial conflict between the Brabant city of Antwerp and the Flemish enclave of Mechelen21. Both groups of witnesses testified that they held Philip the Good, the then newly sworn in duke of Brabant, obliged to act against any such infractions of the public order that occurred within the borders of the duchy, and that he had to bring those responsible before the appropriate (ducal) Brabantine courts. The Brabant witnesses linked this explicitly to the joyous entry Philip had issued at his accession in 1430 and similar, earlier documents. One of them, Edmond de Dynter22, a secretary of the Brabant ducal chancery and future author of the Chronique des ducs de Brabant, stated for example that:

  • 23 il a bien veu lettres des entrees de feux le duc Anthoine, les ducs Jehan et Phelippe, ses enfans d (...)

[…] he had seen the charters of the entries of the late duke Anthony, and of his children the dukes John and Philip, and likewise that of my redoubted lord the present duke, which include that the prince shall treat his subjects of Brabant according to law and justice, before those instances where they are to be treated, and he has seen several things being handled in such a way before the prince, my redoubted lord, and his vassals in his feudal courts, or before his council […]23.

  • 24 dist que de l’ordonnace ou disposicion dont l’article parle, il ne scet faire aucune declaracion, m (...)

9The Flemish interviewee, however, saw this merely as self-evident or custom: “he doesn’t have anything to declare concerning the ordinance or declaration mentioned [i.e. the joyous entry], but he does know that those cases occurring in Brabant are to be treated before the prince and his council24”.

  • 25 A. Van Nieuwenhuysen, “Les ordonnances de Philippe le Hardi”, Bulletin de la Commission royale des (...)
  • 26 R. Van Uytven, “De rechtsgeldigheid van de Brabantse Blijde Inkomst van 3 januari 1356”, Tijdschrif (...)
  • 27 See W. Blockmans, “De ‘constitutionele’ betekenis van de privilegiën van Maria van Bourgondië (1477 (...)

10Apart from such instances, the Brabant cities, nobles and monasteries mainly used the joyous entries as a specific privilege that confirmed and guaranteed the benefit of the diverse ducal grants, charters and privileges they had previously, and on an individual basis, obtained. In other words, the joyous entries essentially served the same purpose as the disparate privileges and confirmations the counts of Flanders granted on their accession to the foremost cities of the county25, albeit bundled in one single, uniform document (that, however, always knew a considerable number of expeditions destined to the major Brabant towns and monasteries)26. It should also be noted that in 1477, the previous successive Brabant joyous entries did hardly influence the wording or content of General Privilege granted by Mary of Burgundy to the Low Countries’ Estates. In fact, whereas the counties of Flanders and Holland obtained separate “provincial” privileges that closely mirrored the dispositions of the General Privilege, the Brabant Estates only pushed for the impetration of a joyous entry that essentially carbon-copied the earlier 14th- and 15th-century examples27.

11Consequently, the General Privileges of 1477 and their emphasis on the distinction between the ordinary and absolute powers of the prince – and their strict regulation of the latter – do not seem to have stemmed directly or uniquely from either Flemish or Brabantine precedent.

Princely reforms, restrictions and general legislation

  • 28 See for a recent overview on these events the article by T. de Hemptinne, “Marguerite de Male et le (...)
  • 29 For numerous examples, see P. Cockshaw, Le personnel de la chancellerie de Bourgogne-Flandre sous l (...)
  • 30 In general, see the old study by G. Doutrepont, La littérature française à la cour des ducs de Bour (...)
  • 31 See the recent work by J.-B. Santamaria, La Chambre des Comptes de Lille de 1386 à 1419. Essor, org (...)
  • 32 D. Lambrecht, “Centralisatie onder de Bourgondiërs: van Audiëntie naar het Parlement van Mechelen”, (...)

12The dynasty of the Valois dukes of Burgundy first came to power in the Low Countries in 1384, when Philip the Bold took possession of the counties of Flanders and Artois as consort of Margaret of Male, sole heiress to count Louis of Male28. With him, a new Burgundian officer corps also made its appearance, which in its turn had found its roots in the French royal administration of John II and Charles V29. Apart from sharing the broad ideological background of the court of Charles le Sage, these men also brought about practical changes in the comital administration30. A Chambre des Comptes was founded in Lille, while both in Flanders and Artois sedentary, provincial courts of justice were created31. These courts and institutions, together with the newly instituted function of a ducal attorney general, would try to uniformize and/or curtail the liberties of the large Flemish and Artesian cities and – consequently and in parallel – augment the princely prerogatives and domanial rights32.

  • 33 J. Dumolyn, J. Haemers, “Patterns of Urban Rebellion in Medieval Flanders”, Journal of Medieval His (...)
  • 34 M. Nordberg, Les ducs et la royauté: études sur la rivalité des ducs d’Orléans et de Bourgogne, 139 (...)
  • 35 See J.-M. Cauchies, “Jean sans Peur…”, op. cit., pp. 661-669.

13This was, however, not an easy task. Philip the Bold had only taken effective possession of the county of Flanders after the conclusion of the so-called “Peace of Tournai” in 1385, ending a long, costly and bloody insurrection of Ghent, the foremost Flemish city, against the comital authority. The settlement reached at Tournai was far from a clear-cut condemnation of the Ghent revolt; rather, it confirmed the privileged position of Ghent and the other major cities vis-à-vis a limited, if again formally recognised, princely power33. Furthermore, ducal policy was still largely oriented towards France. Especially during the reign of John the Fearless and his struggle for control over the mentally disabled Charles VI and the royal government, the Burgundian ­possessions and revenues within the Low Countries were largely neglected or made subservient to the duke’s French cause and exploits34. Large parts of the comital domain in Flanders and Artesia were alienated or given in long-term pledges, while many cities succeeded in purchasing additional privileges from the cash-strapped duke35.

  • 36 R. Stein, De hertog en zijn Staten: de eenwording van de Bourgondische Nederlanden, ca. 1380-1480, (...)
  • 37 P. Bonenfant, Du meurtre de Montereau au traité de Troyes, Brussels, Académie royale de Belgique, 1 (...)
  • 38 C. Armstrong, “La double monarchie France-Angleterre et la maison de Bourgogne (1420-1435): le décl (...)
  • 39 The Treaty of Arras had in theory only exempted Philip the Good, in person, from any oath of fealty (...)

14During the reign of John’s successor and son, Philip the Good, this situation would gradually start to change. By c. 1430, the duke had expanded his composite state with the acquisition or conquest of the duchies and counties of Brabant, Limburg, Holland, Zeeland, Hainaut and Namur36. Simultaneously, Philip’s policies also increasingly turned away from France and the royal court. If the first two decades of his reign were still marked by a strong involvement in the Hundred Years’ War, following his adherence to the Lancastrian cause and the Treaty of Troyes of 142037, this rapidly changed in the years 1430-1433 as contacts with the court of Charles VII were re-established38. Finally, in 1435, this renversement des alliances was formalised in the Treaty of Arras, which would also somewhat loosen the feudal bonds between the duke and the king of France, if not de jure then at least de facto39. All these events combined to shift the focus of the Burgundian administration from external expansion to internal reorganisation, unification and dominance.

  • 40 R. Stein, De hertog en zijn Staten…, op. cit., pp. 133-145.
  • 41 M.-A. Arnould, “Une estimation des revenus et des dépenses de Philippe le Bon en 1445”, in Acta His (...)
  • 42 See J. Dumolyn, De Brugse Opstand van 1436-1438, Heule, UGA, 1997, pp. 299-322, and M.-R. Thieleman (...)

15This (geo)political reorientation and the previous territorial expansion were, however, accompanied by considerable growing pains. The ducal Chambres des Comptes and regional judicial courts struggled to control the newly acquired principalities40, the princely domain was still heavily indebted41, while the break-up with England led to revolt and dissent in the commercially orientated counties of Flanders and Holland throughout the 1436-1439 period42. It was this context that first led to a series of “constitutional” ducal reforms and initiatives that would, eventually, be reflected in the General Privileges of 1477 and their regulation of the princely ordinary and absolute power.

  • 43 J. Kervyn de Lettenhove, “Programme d’un gouvernement constitutionnel en Belgique au xve siècle”, B (...)
  • 44 B. Sterchi, “Hugues de Lannoy, auteur de l’Enseignement de vraie noblesse, de l’Instruction d’un je (...)
  • 45 H. Brand, “Hue (Hugues) de Lannoy, seigneur de Santes, de Beaumont et d’Ijsselmonde”, in R. de Smed (...)
  • 46 In any case, the Burgundian “top-level” administration, be they maîtres des comptes, presidents of (...)

16These reforms can be tentatively traced back to a series of proposals and memoranda drafted around 1436-1438, and which already were edited in 1862 by the Belgian historian Kervyn de Lettenhove under the rather provoking, if not entirely unbefitting, title of Programme d’un gouvernement constitutionnel en Belgique43. The author of these documents has traditionally been held to have been Guillebert de Lannoy, although recently Bernhard Sterchi has convincingly pointed to striking similarities between these documents and the political pamphlet of the Éducation d’un jeune prince, proposing both having been written by Hugues de Lannoy44. The authorship question is however rather trivial: the documents clearly indicate that they were formulated by someone close to the duke or to his immediate council, be this Guillebert, Hugues – both members of the Order of the Golden Fleece45 –, or some other Burgundian courtier or councillor46.

  • 47 J. Kervyn de Lettenhove, “Programme d’un gouvernement…”, op. cit., p. 234, also saw similar re-utte (...)
  • 48 The author proposes several reforms that should entice the ducal subjects to “dispose themselves” e (...)
  • 49 The contemporary Flemish jurist and ducal baillif, Jean van den Berghe, states in his legal tract D (...)

17Rather, it is the content of these memoranda that concerns us here. A first, important, remark that needs to be made is that its author did not see any kind of, in the words of Kervyn, “constitutional government” as the object of his proposed reforms. He only proposes a somewhat more regulated princely government as a means to his in fact quite openly declared end: to elevate the duke to un des plus riches et aysés princes du monde […] cremu, amé et doubté de tous [ses] subgès47. The ultimate authority of the duke should thus not be questioned: his subjects owe him loyalty and e.g. popular revolts are to be quelled, although the author of the memoranda recognises that within the political context he was writing such repression might be better postponed48. It was therefore not the intention of the proposed reforms to curtail the absolute power or sovereignty of the prince – which the memoranda only evoked in passing, as a nefandum49 – but to regulate, as well as to increase, his “ordinary” power.

  • 50 J. Kervyn de Lettenhove, “Programme d’un gouvernement…”, op. cit., pp. 236, 238.
  • 51 J. Kervyn de Lettenhove, “Programme d’un gouvernement…”, op. cit., pp. 233-234.
  • 52 Ibid., p. 239: princely officers ought to swear that they ne prenderez dons ne prouffis […] mais se (...)

18The core elements of this princely ordinary power that needed to be reformed were the ducal justice and his domain (and their associated revenues). Recalling and referring to the original pactum the people had once concluded with the prince, the author reminded Philip the Good of his foremost duty to provide justice to his subjects, a justice that was held to be founded on good council and founded on equity50. In return, the author of the documents was certain that the ducal subjects would provide him with fitting rewards: aides, a willingness to perform military service, the agreement to levy new taxes and excises, and their general compliance with the duke’s policy and commandments51. In other words, as a stipendium for fulfilling his part of the pactum, the ducal subjects would allow Philip the Good to benefit from his princely iura regalia. At the same time, these princely benefits were to be governed in a controlled, responsible way, without alienating them52.

  • 53 J. Dumolyn, “Justice, Equity and the Common Good. The State Ideology of the Councillors of the Burg (...)
  • 54 See the discussion of this ideal by J.-M. Cauchies, “‘Croit conseil’ et ses ‘ministres’. L’entourag (...)
  • 55 R. Van Answaarden, “The Medieval Separation of Powers Defined by Charles the Bold (1473)”, Revue d’ (...)
  • 56 L. Scordia, “Le roi doit vivre du sien”. La théorie de l’impôt en France (xiiie-xve siècles), Paris (...)

19This of course hardly constitutes an entirely novel discourse. References to the ideals of justice and equity abound in Burgundian paralegal court literature and theoretical tracts53, just like the notion that the prince should heed the advice of his nobles and courtiers was widely accepted54. Likewise, the theory concerning the princely stipendium was, among others, already amply commented on by Thomas Aquinas, while the official enumeration of the iura regalia dated back to the constitutions of Roncaglia55. Finally, the idea or proposition that le roy – or, in this case, the duke – doit vivre du sien, was a 15th-century commonplace as well56. Yet, the swift translation of the memoranda into practical remedies and ducal ordinances is rather unique, as is the later inclusion and adaptation of many of these strictly “ducal” stipulations and reforms in the General Privileges, obtained in 1477 by the Estates, noteworthy.

  • 57 J. Kervyn de Lettenhove, “Programme d’un gouvernement…”, op. cit., pp. 238, 248.
  • 58 H. Krüse, W. Paravicini (eds.), Die Hofordnungen der Herzöge von Burgund, vol. 1: Herzog Philipp de (...)
  • 59 J. Van Rompaey, De Grote Raad van de hertogen van Boergondië en het Parlement van Mechelen, Brussel (...)
  • 60 W. Blockmans, M.-A. Arnould, E. Strubbe, “Privilegie voor alle landen…”, op. cit., p. 90, § 1-2.
  • 61 H. Krüse, W. Paravicini (eds.), Die Hofordnungen der Herzöge…, op. cit., pp. 141-142, § 6: at least (...)
  • 62 For this ordinance, see archives départementales du Nord, France, série B, no. 1284/15.816bis; comp (...)
  • 63 See J. Van Rompaey, Het grafelijk baljuwsambt in Vlaanderen tijdens de Boergondische periode, Bruss (...)
  • 64 W. Blockmans, E. Strubbe (eds.), “Privilegie voor het graafschap Vlaanderen, verleend door Maria, h (...)
  • 65 W. Blockmans, M.-A. Arnould, E. Strubbe, “Privilegie voor alle landen…”, op. cit., p. 93, § 17.

20First of all, the memoranda proposed that a new ducal council would be created, de huit, X, ou XII personnes, with a representation drawn from the marches de Picardie, Flandres, Brabant, Haynaut et pays d’environ, whose members would effectively handle ducal policy: par le conseil desquels il [i.e. the duke] démenroit et conduiroit tous ses affaires […] et n’y fera en sa conduite aucunes nuances se ce n’est passé en grand conseil57. Already in February 1437, contemporary with the redaction of the memoranda, a ducal ordinance was issued that seemingly fulfilled this suggestion by reforming and reducing the ducal “core” council to ten persons, with a balanced representation from both his southerly, French-speaking, and northerly, Dutch-speaking possessions58. It was this committee that would evolve during the early 1440s into the so-called ducal Grand Conseil, a unified judicial court that could treat cases stemming from all the Burgundian principalities, thus establishing the independent, institutional ducal “rule of law” proposed by the author of the 1436-1438 reforms59. The Great Privilege of 1477 echoed these measures in, again, stressing the need for an equal delegation of councillors ringing from all the different Burgundian principalities in the ducal council, while Mary of Burgundy also conceded that her secretaries should know both French and Dutch60 – a requisite that the 1437 ordinance had already fulfilled as well61. Furthermore, the oath for ducal officers dressed by the author of the recommendations was copied almost verbatim in a 1446 general ordinance concerning the renewal of the Flemish urban governments62, while an earlier 1439 ducal legislative act had regulated the conditions ducal tenants and farmers of judicial functions had to fulfil63, an issue the 1436 reforms already addressed as well. The 1477 privileges took over most elements of these oaths64, while the issue concerning the farming out of judicial offices was then settled, more drastically, by abolishing the practice altogether65.

  • 66 J. Kervyn de Lettenhove, “Programme d’un gouvernement…”, op. cit., p. 244.
  • 67 M.-A. Arnould, “Une estimation des revenus…”, op. cit., pp. 131-219.
  • 68 J. Braekevelt, B. Lambert, “Bonnore Olivier, courtier ligurien de la fiscalité bourguignonne (1429- (...)
  • 69 J. Kervyn de Lettenhove, “Programme d’un gouvernement…”, op. cit., pp. 242-243, 249.
  • 70 Which largely ended, for the remainder of the reign of Philip the Good, any noteworthy urban opposi (...)
  • 71 Which are among the first of their kind, see J.-M. Cauchies, “Les ordonnances dites ‘générales’ sou (...)
  • 72 One has been edited, see H. Krüse, W. Paravicini (eds.), Die Hofordnungen der Herzöge…, op. cit., p (...)
  • 73 J. Braekevelt, Pieter Bladelin…, op. cit., pp. 63-70, no. 26.
  • 74 Ibid., p. 68, § [X]: obligation to personally fulfil judicial offices and to hold local residence.
  • 75 W. Blockmans, E. Strubbe (eds.), “Privilegie voor het graafschap Vlaanderen…”, op. cit., pp. 132-13 (...)

21These measures to improve the ducal dispensation of justice to his subjects – whereby the duke fulfilled his obligations of the pactum –, were coupled with a series of financial and domanial reforms that aimed to secure and augment the iura regalia the Burgundian dynasty was, consequently, entitled to. Following the memorandum’s advice that the duke should limit his expenses and alienations and face blant pappier et prendre du plus bel et plus cler de toutes ses revenues en reboutant toutes autres [i.c. loans or obligations] choses66, a general Burgundian budget, the first of its kind, was drafted between 1443 and 144567. At the same time, a specialised receiver of all “extraordinary” ducal revenues was appointed68, which followed the suggestion of the 1436 memorandum to create two separate funds, one for the regular expenditure of the duke (to be covered by his domanial income), the other destined for gifts, unexpected expenses and discretionary ducal ventures or acquisitions69. Following these initial measures, and especially after the successful suppression of a renewed Ghent uprising in the years 1449-145370, this policy to limit any further alienations of the ducal domain was consecrated in March 1454 by the expedition of three “general” ducal ordinances, applicable to the entire Burgundian principalities71. Two of these concerned the wages of ducal officers and the expenses of the Burgundian administration72; the third revoked or limited all kind of ducal gifts, new prejudicial privileges and other kinds of grâces73, while its also tackled corruption and deficiencies in the ducal administration, drawing further on the 1446 Flemish general ordinance already mentioned above74. Again, the General Privileges granted by Mary of Burgundy would reiterate several of the clauses of these ordinances75.

22This influx of a unified, generally applicable princely legislation, from the reign of Philip the Good onwards, thus seems to have been a precursor of sorts of the “constitutional” concessions the Estates of the Low Countries managed to obtain from the Burgundian dynasty in 1477. At the very least, their similarities and the recurrence of particular themes strongly nuance the point of view that considers the General Privileges only as the logical outcome of Brabantine or Flemish traditions of popular sovereignty or any previously obtained landcharters.

Ordinary and absolute princely power and the reign of Charles the Bold

23Nevertheless, the identification of ducal precedents to the 1477 privileges does not explain the existence of the latter – on the contrary, why would the ducal subjects have pressed Mary of Burgundy into conceding the privileges, if their stipulations had already been codified in previous Burgundian legislation?

  • 76 J. Braekevelt, Pieter Bladelin…, op. cit., p. 68.
  • 77 W. Blockmans, M.-A. Arnould, E. Strubbe, “Privilegie voor alle landen…”, op. cit., p. 93, § 15.
  • 78 W. Blockmans, “Patronage, Brokerage and Corruption as Symptoms of Incipient State Formation in the (...)

24Obviously, there are differences in emphasis that are quite easily explained. For example, the 1454 ordinance by Philip the Good stated that prior to the expedition of new (urban or other) privileges a thorough inquest and examination was to be held to determine the prouffit ou dommaige que avenir en pourroit a nous et a la chose publique de noz païs76. Any privilege which omitted this step could henceforth neither be sealed, signed nor executed by the ducal functionaries. The 1477 Great Privilege altered this to a strict ban on the expedition of any princely ordinances that, without consent, violated or altered the pre-existing privileges of the Burgundian subjects77. Secondly, the actual implementation of the previous ducal ordinances may be doubted, as the ducal administration was notoriously corrupt and often inefficient in the implementation of its policies78.

  • 79 R. Van Answaarden, “The Medieval Separation of Powers…”, op. cit., pp. 412-415. See similar comment (...)
  • 80 Ordinance of June 24, 1460, see Bibliothèque nationale de France, ms. fr., no. 5325, fol. 8 ro-vo. (...)
  • 81 J. Van Rompaey, “Hofraad en Grote Raad in de hofordonnantie van 1 januari 1469”, in G. Asaert (ed.) (...)
  • 82 M. Boone, “‘Want remitteren is princelijck’: Vorstelijk genaderecht en sociale realiteiten in de Bo (...)

25Yet, the key difference between the General Privileges of 1477, obtained by the Estates, and any previous, purely ducal initiatives, lies in their divergent treatment of the ducal ordinary and absolute power, or, alternatively, justice and grace. The proposed reforms of 1436-1438 and the ducal legislation that came out of them had, in part, started to separate these related spheres. The creation of the Grand Conseil, and its 1473 reformation by Charles the Bold into the sovereign court by the name of the Parliament of Malines, had depersonalised the supreme ducal administration of justice, and limited the meddling of the prince to those matters that pertained to his gracious sphere79. Likewise, the institution of a separate recette extraordinaire and the concurrent limitations imposed on the alienation of the old domain by several restrictive ordinances had sought to limit or control princely (financial) liberalities. Other related evolutions can be pointed out: in 1460 the inhabitans of the duchy of Burgundy received the concession that lettres de justice would henceforth be fixed in price (as opposed to lettres de grâce)80, a decision which in 1468 was expanded to the whole Burgundian possessions81; at the same time, Philip the Good and Charles the Bold limited the ability of their subaltern officers to issue remissions or rappels de ban on their own behalf, by declaring these inseparably linked to the ducal person, his highness and sovereignty82.

26This last example should already serve as a hint and reminder that these ducal reforms, however, in the end did not sought to diminish the power of the prince. Like the author of the 1436-1438 memoranda had already stated, the goal was to elevate the dukes of Burgundy to one of Christian Europe’s leading rulers. Sure, this was best to be accomplished by the deliberate, just use of their (often delegated) ordinary powers; but it did not exclude or deny the existence of ducal absolute power.

  • 83 Based on the corpus of the legislative acts of Philip the Good for the County of Flanders (1419-146 (...)
  • 84 On this formula, see J.-M. Cauchies, La législation princière pour le comté de Hainaut. Ducs de Bou (...)
  • 85 J. Braekevelt, Pieter Bladelin…, op. cit., pp. CXXXVIII-CXXXIX.
  • 86 See W. Blockmans, “‘Crisme de leze magesté’. Les idées politiques de Charles le Téméraire”, in J.-M (...)

27In fact, in parallel with the increase in Burgundian legislation like the 1454 ordonnances de restriction, more and more ducal charters were issued with the explicit mention that this was done de expresso mandato domini (“on the explicit command of the duke”)83. This chancery formula indicated that, even after the ducal council or preparatory inquests had determined that a certain act or concession should, arguably, not be granted, the duke had nevertheless, voluntarily, decided to do so84. Only the ducal Chambres des Comptes sometimes still tried to halt such expeditions, but confronted with an adamant duke they always yielded, even at times explicitly recognising that the prince could – if perhaps not should – transgress his ordinary power85. Such direct references to the existence, and possible use, of the dukes absolute power would only increase towards the end of the reign of Philip the Good and even more so under Charles the Bold. They held themselves as princes de justice to be sure, but their subjects, in return and as a stipendium for the ducal dispensation of justice and provision of security, owed them absolute obedience and recognition of the prince’s absolute power. Even (or especially) previous privileges of the governed could not be used to contest the prince his decisions, as these privileges – from the viewpoint of the ducal government – derived their authority exactly from this absolute power86.

  • 87 P.-C. Timbal, “Les lettres de marque dans le droit de la France médiévale”, Recueils de la Société (...)
  • 88 W. Blockmans, E. Strubbe (eds.), “Privilegie voor het graafschap Vlaanderen…”, op. cit., § 22-23, 2 (...)

28It were these evolutions that the Great Privileges of 1477 tried to tackle, all the while taking their inspiration and cues from the previous Burgundian reformative legislation. The Estates managed to obtain from Mary of Burgundy the concession that she nor her government or chancery would henceforth command, sign, seal or emit any charters or commands that interfered with the course of due process; letters of marque – which were also considered an expression of a prince’s sovereign power87; debitis, demurs and other acts which damaged the interests of a third party; of andre gracien, hoe die genaemt zijn (“or any other kind of graces, whatever they are called”)88. In other words, the Estates didn’t limit themselves to the regulation of the ducal justice and ordinary power – like the Burgundian reforms and ordinances of the past decades – but also sought to control and limit the strictly gracious sphere of the princely prerogative.

Conclusions: privilege versus sovereignty

  • 89 See H. Krause, “Dauer und Vergänglichkeit im mittelalterlichen Recht”, Zeitschrift der Savigny-Stif (...)
  • 90 In 1458 Guillaume Fillastre, bishop of Tournai and head of the ducal council, had stated that, amon (...)

29Yet as such, the General Privileges of 1477 were quite contradictory documents. The Low Countries’ Estates had sought to put an end to the authoritarian rule of Charles the Bold and the increasing use by the dukes and their administration of absolute princely power. In their efforts to give the concessions obtained from Mary of Burgundy their – theoretically at least89 – greatest legal value and solemnity, they eventually resorted to the drafting of a formal ducal privilege. For the Burgundian dynasty, however, this possibility to issue privileges was linked explicitly to their princely sovereignty and absolute powers90. And although the Estates had taken care to copy several safeguards into the General Privileges that had also been present in earlier ducal reform legislation – like the obligation of chancery personnel not to expedite any acts that violated its content –, these were subsequently easily ignored by Maximilian of Austria by invoking, once again, his derogatory, absolute power.

  • 91 W. Blockmans, “Du contrat féodal…”, op. cit., pp. 137-140.

30If the General Privilege of 1477 can be seen as a truly constitutional text, namely in that it sought to limit the actions of the prince and leave him only his ordinary power and the right and duty to provide and dispense justice, then it was hampered by its reliance on the duchess absolute power to enforce and sanction such a limitation. It would only be during the later 16th century, at the start of the Dutch Revolt, that a more radical solution to this problem was proposed. In 1580-1581, the insurgent Estates held ample talks with the envoys of François, duke of Anjou. The Estates had already decided on their denunciation of Philip II, king of Spain, as ruler and sovereign of the Low Countries, yet the political and military context still forced them to look for a new prince. François – cadet son of the king of France, arch-enemy of the Habsburg dynasty – seemed a promising candidate. The discussions between the two parties nevertheless revealed that the Estates did not simply sought to replace one prince with the other. François would have to honour the privileges of his new subjects and redress the wrongs done by Philip and his administration; that was self-evident. But he would also not be allowed, and this was a demand that led to considerable contention, to become the sovereign of the Low Countries. Anjou would only become their elected leader or “prince in name”, for the ultimate sovereignty over the Low Countries and its associated powers would remain firmly vested within the Estates, who represented the realm and its population91. The Estates thus recognised the inherent danger and paradox associated with any kind of princely privilege, concession or “constitutional” document that was or would have been granted ex certa scientia of the prince or by his “plenitude of power”. Instead, they chose to detain these prerogatives themselves.

  • 92 H. Blom, “The Great Privilege (1477) as ‘Code of Dutch Freedom’: the Political Role of Privileges i (...)

31In the end, the rule of the duke of Anjou proved short-lived, and the rebellious principalities and Estates would go on to form the Dutch Republic. But the notion that no single person or formal institution could detain sovereignty, if for the Estates in a delegated, theoretical fashion, lived on. It was this evolution that elevated the 1477 privileges and other, earlier princely concessions to a true “constitutional” standing within the Dutch Republic: as the authority that had once granted them was no longer extant, so had the possibility to recall or question them disappeared92.

Notes

1 For a historiographical overview of these views, see M. Boone, “‘In den beginne was het woord’: de vroege groei van parlementen in de middeleeuwse vorstendommen”, Bijdragen en mededelingen betreffende de geschiedenis der Nederlanden, 120, 2005, pp. 338-361; a recent, critical assessment of the notion of a late medieval Dutch or Flemish “political conflict” can be found in the contribution by J. Dumolyn, J. Haemers, “‘Les bonnes causes du peuple pour se révolter’: le contrat politique en Flandre médiévale d’après Guillaume Zoete (1488)”, in F. Foronda (ed.), Avant le contrat social. Le contrat politique dans l’Occident médiéval (xiiie-xve siècle), Paris, Publications de la Sorbonne, 2011, pp. 327-346.

2 On this notion of a “Burgundian State”, see, among others, J.-M. Cauchies, “État bourguignon ou états bourguignons? De la singularité d’un pluriel”, in P. Hoppenbrouwers, A. Janse, R. Stein (eds.), Power and Persuasion. Essays on the Art of State Building in Honour of W. Blockmans, Turnhout, Brepols, 2010, pp. 49-58, and B. Schnerb, L’État bourguignon, 1363-1477, Paris, Perrin, 1999, passim.

3 For the critical edition of this document, see W. Blockmans, M.-A. Arnould, E. Strubbe, “Privilegie voor alle landen van herwaarts over, verleend door Maria, hertogin van Bourgondië, ter bekrachtiging van de klachten die de Staten-Generaal haar hadden voorgelegd”, in W. Blockmans (ed.), Le privilège général et les privilèges régionaux de Marie de Bourgogne pour les Pays-Bas: 1477, Courtrai, UGA, 1985, pp. 85-95.

4 J. Haemers, For the Common Good? State Power and Urban Revolts in the Reign of Mary of Burgundy, 1477-1482, Turnhout, Brepols, 2009.

5 See W. Blockmans, “Du contrat féodal à la souveraineté du peuple. Les précédents de la déchéance de Philippe II dans les Pays-Bas (1581)”, in Assemblee di Stati istituzioni rappresentative nella storia del pensiero politico moderno (s. XV-XX), Rimini, Maggioli (Annali della Facoltà di scienze politiche, 19), 1983, pp. 135-150.

6 On these events, see F. Ganshof, “Les origines du concept de souveraineté nationale en Flandre”, Revue d’histoire du droit, 18, 1950, pp. 135-158; id., “Le roi de France en Flandre en 1127 et 1128”, Revue historique de droit français et étranger, 27, 1949, pp. 204-228.

7 R. Van Caenegem, “De keure van Sint-Omaars van 1127: een politiek document”, Bulletin de la Commission royale d’histoire, 175, 2009, p. 187.

8 W. Blockmans, “Du contrat féodal…”, op. cit., p. 147.

9 Cited and contextualised by R. Van Caenegem, “Le problème des chartes de libertés”, in Album Elemér Màlyusz. Études présentées à la Commission internationale pour l’histoire des assemblées d’États, Brussels, Éditions de la Librairie encyclopédique, 1976, p. 5.

10 Or at least stemmed from an original delegation of power by the people to the prince, as voiced by the famous Lex regia; see A. Gouron, “Le glossateur, le prince, le peuple”, in C. Leveleux-Texeira et al. (eds.), Le gouvernement des communautés politiques à la fin du Moyen Âge. Entre puissance et négociation: villes, finances, État. Actes du colloque en l’honneur d’Albert Rigaudière, Paris, Panthéon-Assas, 2011, pp. 447-448.

11 M. Boone, “The Desired Stranger: Attraction and Expulsion in the Medieval City”, in L. Lucassen, W. Willems (eds.), Living in the City: Urban Institutions in the Low Countries, 1200-2010, New York, Routledge, 2012, pp. 33-34; R. Van Caenegem, “Coutumes et législation en Flandre aux xie et xiie siècles”, in Les libertés urbaines et rurales du xie au xive siècle. Colloque international, Spa 5-8 IX 1966, Brussels, Pro Civitate, 1968, pp. 262-263.

12 See the comments of J.-M. Cauchies, “Jean sans Peur, comte de Flandre (1405-1419), législateur”, in F. Autrand, C. Gauvard, J.-M. Moeglin (eds.), Saint-Denis et la royauté: études offertes à Bernard Guenée, Paris, Publications de la Sorbonne, 1999, p. 665.

13 That the Flemish cities never felt the need to obtain a more general, inclusive concession from the counts of Flanders probably stemmed in part from their own rivalries and ambitions: any clear-cut regulation of the comital authority and their rights would have limited their ability to establish a proper contado and to thus dominate their hinterland, to the detriment of both the comital administration as their less powerful urban neighbours, see M. Boone, “Le rêve de l’État-Ville: ambitions gantoises, réalités bourguignonnes et conflits juridico-financiers (ca. 1430)”, in C. Leveleux-Texeira et al. (eds.), Le gouvernement des communautés politiques…, op. cit., pp. 369-393.

14 The aldermen, guild deans or other members of the urban political elite or “middle class” often did invoke historic precedent, but these references rarely surpassed the threshold of two or three generations, see J. Haemers, “Social Memory and Rebellion in Fifteenth-Century Ghent”, Social History, 36, 2011, pp. 443-463.

15 For a historiographical discussion of such 19th-century viewpoints, see E. Bousmar, “Siècle de Bourgogne, siècle des grands ducs: variations de mémoire en Belgique et en France, du xixe siècle à nos jours”, Publications du Centre européen d’études bourguignonnes, 52, 2012, pp. 235-251.

16 P. Gorissen, “Het charter en de Raad van Kortenberg”, Revue belge de philologie et d’histoire, 31, 1953, pp. 1103-1104.

17 G. Van Dievoet, L’empereur Joseph II et la Joyeuse Entrée de Brabant: les dernières années de la constitution brabançonne, Leuven, Nauwelaerts, 1958.

18 See J. Van der Straeten, Het charter en de Raad van Kortenberg, vol. 2: Aanhangsels, Leuven, Universitaire Uitgaven, 1952, p. 13, no. 1, § 1.

19 A comparison of the different, subsequent joyous entries from 1356 up till the 1430 expedition by Philip the Good can be found in P. Godding, La législation ducale en Brabant sous le règne de Philippe le Bon (1430-1467), Brussels, Académie royale de Belgique, 2006, pp. 117-133. In this respect, the Brabant landcharters did hardly differ from the frequent individual Flemish confirmations or renewed expeditions of urban privileges by the counts, see J. Dumolyn, “Privileges and Novelties: the Political Discourse of the Flemish Cities and Rural Districts in their Negotiations with the Dukes of Burgundy (1384-1506)”, Urban History, 35, 2008, pp. 5-23.

20 geloven wij hen goet gerecht ende getruwe heer te sine ende egheen cracht ofte wille aen hen te doen of laten geschien […] ende dat wijse buten vonnisse ende rechte nyet handelen: cf. Ordonnances de Philippe le Bon pour les duchés de Brabant et de Limbourg et les pays d’Outre-Meuse, 1430-1467, ed. by P. Godding, Brussels, Service public fédéral Justice, 2005, p. 41, no. 1, § [1].

21 Antwerp and Mechelen had long disputed their respective staple rights and the free navigation on the Zenne River; the accession of Philip the Good as duke of Brabant had further complicated matters now that both Antwerp and Mechelen shared the same ruler. See M. De Laet, “Mechelen versus Antwerpen. De strijd om het bezit en het behoud van de stapels voor vis, zout en haver (1233-1467)”, Handelingen Koninklijke Kring voor Oudheidkunde, Letteren en Kunst van Mechelen, 90, 1986, pp. 57-89.

22 De Dynter had already been engaged in ducal service since the reign of duke Anthony (1406-1415) and managed to keep his position as secretary after the acquisition of Brabant by Philip the Good in 1430 and the consequent inclusion of the duchy in the Burgundian composite state; see J. Fruytier, “Dynter, Edmond van”, in P. Molhuysen, P. Blok (eds.), Nieuw Nederlandsch biografisch woordenboek, Leiden, Sijthoff, 1924, t. 6, pp. 463-464. For his role and career as a chronicler, see R. Stein, Politiek en historiografie: het ontstaansmilieu van Brabantse kronieken in de eerste helft van de vijftiende eeuw, Leuven, Peeters, 1994, pp. 73-99.

23 il a bien veu lettres des entrees de feux le duc Anthoine, les ducs Jehan et Phelippe, ses enfans de noble memoire, et de mon tres redoubté seigneur a present, contenant entre autres choses que le prince traittera et fera traictier les subgés du païs de Brabant en toutes choses par loy et justice selon les drois ou il appartient et doit avenir, et a lui qui parle pluseurs choses veu traittier par droit, aucunes devant le prince, mon tres redoubté seigneur, et ses hommes de fief en ses cours de fief, aucunes devant son conseil: cf. Mechelen City Archives, series VI, no. 203.

24 dist que de l’ordonnace ou disposicion dont l’article parle, il ne scet faire aucune declaracion, mais scet bien que les choses et causes qui aviennent en Brabant l’en manye en diverses manieres, comme devant le prince ou son conseil: cf. ibid. This testimony was given by Goossin de Wilde, who would go on to become president of the Council of Flanders, the provincial Burgundian court within that County. See J. Dumolyn, Staatsvorming en vorstelijke ambtenaren in het graafschap Vlaanderen (1419-1477), Leuven, Garant, 2003, database on CD-Rom, sub nomen “de Wilde, Goossin”.

25 A. Van Nieuwenhuysen, “Les ordonnances de Philippe le Hardi”, Bulletin de la Commission royale des anciennes lois et ordonnances de Belgique, 25, 1971-1972, p. 78; J. Braekevelt, “De verordeningen van Filips de Goede voor het graafschap Vlaanderen en de heerlijkheid Mechelen (1419-1438). Een voorlopige chronologische regestenlijst”, Bulletin de la Commission royale des anciennes lois et ordonnances de Belgique, 48, 2007, pp. 18-19.

26 R. Van Uytven, “De rechtsgeldigheid van de Brabantse Blijde Inkomst van 3 januari 1356”, Tijdschrift voor Geschiedenis, 82, 1969, pp. 43-44.

27 See W. Blockmans, “De ‘constitutionele’ betekenis van de privilegiën van Maria van Bourgondië (1477)”, in id. (ed.), Le privilège général…, op. cit., pp. 475-476, who also notes that the Burgundian-Habsburg administration never truly challenge this 1477 expedition of the Brabant joyous entry, as opposed to the General Privilege that was issued at the same time.

28 See for a recent overview on these events the article by T. de Hemptinne, “Marguerite de Male et les villes de Flandre. Une princesse naturelle aux prises avec le pouvoir des autres (1384-1405)”, in E. Bousmar et al. (eds.), Femmes de pouvoir, femmes politiques durant les derniers siècles du Moyen Âge et au cours de la première Renaissance, Brussels, De Boeck (Bibliothèque du Moyen Âge, 28), 2012, pp. 477-491.

29 For numerous examples, see P. Cockshaw, Le personnel de la chancellerie de Bourgogne-Flandre sous les ducs de Bourgogne de la maison de Valois (1384-1477), Courtrai, UGA, 1982, pp. 85-86; E. Andt, La Chambre des Comptes de Dijon à l’époque des ducs Valois, Paris, Librairie de la société du recueil Sirey, 1924, pp. 6-9; A. Van Nieuwenhuysen, “Documents relatifs à la gestion des finances de Philippe le Hardi, duc de Bourgogne et comte de Flandre (1384-1404)”, Bulletin de la Commission royale d’histoire, 146, 1980, pp. 74-82; B. Schnerb, “L’activité de la Chambre des Comptes de Dijon entre 1386 et 1404 d’après le premier registre de ses mémoriaux”, in P. Contamine, O. Mattéoni (eds.), La France des principautés. Les Chambres des Comptes, xive et xve siècles. Colloque tenu aux archives départementales de l’Allier à Moulins-Yzeure, les 6, 7 et 8 avril 1995, Paris, Comité pour l’histoire économique et financière de la France, 1996, pp. 55-56.

30 In general, see the old study by G. Doutrepont, La littérature française à la cour des ducs de Bourgogne – Philippe le Hardi, Jean sans Peur, Philippe le Bon, Charles le Téméraire, Paris, Champion, 1909. For a recent contribution that gives a more concrete example, namely the Burgundian reception and adaptation of the works of Oresme as evidenced by their minting practices, see J. Munro, “Coinage Debasements in Burgundian Flanders, 1384-1482: Monetary or Fiscal Policies?”, in D. Nicholas, B. Bachrach, J. Murray (eds.), Comparative Perspectives on History and Historians. Essays in Memory of Bryce Lyon (1920-2007), Kalamazoo, Western Michigan University, 2012, pp. 314-360, especially pp. 314-315.

31 See the recent work by J.-B. Santamaria, La Chambre des Comptes de Lille de 1386 à 1419. Essor, organisation et fonctionnement d’une institution princière, Turnhout, Brepols, 2012, to be complemented with the older publication by J. Bartier, Légistes et gens de finance au xve siècle. Les conseillers des ducs de Bourgogne Philippe le Bon et Charles le Téméraire, Brussels, Palais des Académies, 1955.

32 D. Lambrecht, “Centralisatie onder de Bourgondiërs: van Audiëntie naar het Parlement van Mechelen”, Bijdragen voor de Geschiedenis der Nederlanden, 20, 1965-1966, pp. 83-109.

33 J. Dumolyn, J. Haemers, “Patterns of Urban Rebellion in Medieval Flanders”, Journal of Medieval History, 31, 2005, pp. 379-380.

34 M. Nordberg, Les ducs et la royauté: études sur la rivalité des ducs d’Orléans et de Bourgogne, 1392-1407, Norstedts, Svenska Bokförlaget, 1964, pp. 39-60 and 185-214. That the income generated from Philip the Bold and John the Fearless their control over the royal finances almost surpassed their own domanial revenues also heavily contributed to this policy, see B.-A. Pocquet Du Haut-Jussé, “Les dons du roi aux ducs de Bourgogne Philippe le Hardi et Jean sans Peur (1363-1419). Les dons ordinaires et extraordinaires”, Mémoires de la Société pour l’histoire du droit et des institutions des anciens pays bourguignons, comtois et romands, 6, 1939, pp. 113-144, and 7, 1940-1941, pp. 95-129, as well as W. Blockmans, “The Low Countries in the Middle Ages”, in R. Bonney (ed.), The Rise of the Fiscal State in Europe, c. 1200-1815, Oxford, Oxford University Press, 1999, p. 291.

35 See J.-M. Cauchies, “Jean sans Peur…”, op. cit., pp. 661-669.

36 R. Stein, De hertog en zijn Staten: de eenwording van de Bourgondische Nederlanden, ca. 1380-1480, Hilversum, Verloren, 2014, pp. 41-55.

37 P. Bonenfant, Du meurtre de Montereau au traité de Troyes, Brussels, Académie royale de Belgique, 1958.

38 C. Armstrong, “La double monarchie France-Angleterre et la maison de Bourgogne (1420-1435): le déclin d’une alliance”, Annales de Bourgogne, 38, 1965, pp. 81-112.

39 The Treaty of Arras had in theory only exempted Philip the Good, in person, from any oath of fealty to Charles VII, see E. Cosneau (ed.), Les grands traités de la guerre de Cent Ans, Paris, Picard, 1889, pp. 143-144, no. V, § 28. In practice, however, the duke and his administration quickly tried to interpret the treaty and its stipulations in a broader sense, by questioning or disregarding the royal sovereignty (among others in cases concerning appeals from Flanders, Burgundy or Artois before the Paris Parliament), see W. Paravicini, “‘Mon souverain seigneur’”, in P. Hoppenbrouwers, A. Janse, R. Stein (eds.), Power and Persuasion…, op. cit., pp. 27-48; J. Faussemagne, L’Apanage ducal de Bourgogne dans ses rapports avec la Monarchie française (1363-1477), Lyon, Salut public, 1937, pp. 120-214, and A.-B. Spitzbarth, “De la vassalité à la sujétion: l’application du traité d’Arras (21 septembre 1435) par la couronne”, Revue du Nord, 85, 2003, pp. 43-72.

40 R. Stein, De hertog en zijn Staten…, op. cit., pp. 133-145.

41 M.-A. Arnould, “Une estimation des revenus et des dépenses de Philippe le Bon en 1445”, in Acta Historica Bruxellensia III. Recherches sur l’histoire des finances publiques en Belgique, Brussels, Institut d’histoire de l’Université libre de Bruxelles, 1974, pp. 131-219.

42 See J. Dumolyn, De Brugse Opstand van 1436-1438, Heule, UGA, 1997, pp. 299-322, and M.-R. Thielemans, Bourgogne et Angleterre. Relations politiques et économiques entre les Pays-Bas bourguignons et l’Angleterre, 1435-1467, Brussels, Presses universitaires de Bruxelles, 1966, pp. 78-80 and 128.

43 J. Kervyn de Lettenhove, “Programme d’un gouvernement constitutionnel en Belgique au xve siècle”, Bulletins de l’Académie royale des sciences, des lettres et des beaux-arts de Belgique, 16, 1862, pp. 218-250.

44 B. Sterchi, “Hugues de Lannoy, auteur de l’Enseignement de vraie noblesse, de l’Instruction d’un jeune prince et des Enseignements paternels”, Le Moyen Âge, 110, 2004, pp. 79-117.

45 H. Brand, “Hue (Hugues) de Lannoy, seigneur de Santes, de Beaumont et d’Ijsselmonde”, in R. de Smedt (ed.), Les chevaliers de l’Ordre de la Toison d’or au xve siècle, Frankfurt, Lang, 1994, pp. 33-35; J. Paviot, “Ghillebert de Lannoy, seigneur de Santes, de Willerval, de Tronchiennes, de Beaumont et de Wahégnies”, in R. de Smedt (ed.), Les chevaliers…, op. cit., pp. 42-45.

46 In any case, the Burgundian “top-level” administration, be they maîtres des comptes, presidents of the provincial ducal courts, secretaries, maîtres des requêtes or courtiers performing administrative or judicial tasks, shared a common ideological and intellectual background, see J. Dumolyn, “L’idéologie d’État des conseillers des ducs de Bourgogne”, in V. Challet (ed.), La société politique à la fin du xve siècle dans les royaumes ibériques et en Europe: élites, peuple, sujets?, Paris, Publications de la Sorbonne, 2007, pp. 145-163.

47 J. Kervyn de Lettenhove, “Programme d’un gouvernement…”, op. cit., p. 234, also saw similar re-utterances of this envisaged goal at p. 236 and pp. 249-250.

48 The author proposes several reforms that should entice the ducal subjects to “dispose themselves” entirely to Philip the Good, yet immediately adds the remark that this will be comme ils sont tenus de faire, cf. ibid., p. 247. Likewise, the duke is advised, with regard to the urban revolts in Flanders, to [se] y porter patianment; nevertheless, these actions are ondemned as oultrages and the author makes it very clear that Philip the Good should keep en memoire et souvenance [et] que ce que vous ne povez maintenant fère, vous le ferez cy-après […] en tousjours y gardant votre haultesse et seignourie, cf. ibid., p. 228. Note that C. Armstrong has stated that le terme “haulteur et seigneurie”, qui exprimait les droits d’un suzerain féodal, devint dans la bouche du duc l’expression de son autorité plénière, cf. C. Armstrong, “Les ducs de Bourgogne, interprètes de la pensée politique du xve siècle”, Annales de Bourgogne, 67, 1995, p. 19.

49 The contemporary Flemish jurist and ducal baillif, Jean van den Berghe, states in his legal tract De juredictien van Vlaendren (“the jurisdictional spheres of Flanders”) that, after treating the several grades of seigniorial justice, the power of the count/prince should not be questioned or discussed: de prinche van den lande […] alle dinc vermach [ende] inde moghentede van den prinche ende inde hoghen zo en behoort niement te studeerne of te prudeerne (“the prince of the land […] may do all things [and] concerning the powers or options of the prince, as well as those concerning his highness, no one ought to study or propose things”), see D. Berten, “Un document de vieux droit coutumier flamand”, Bulletin de la Commission royale des anciennes lois et ordonnances de Belgique, 9, 1913, p. 15.

50 J. Kervyn de Lettenhove, “Programme d’un gouvernement…”, op. cit., pp. 236, 238.

51 J. Kervyn de Lettenhove, “Programme d’un gouvernement…”, op. cit., pp. 233-234.

52 Ibid., p. 239: princely officers ought to swear that they ne prenderez dons ne prouffis […] mais seulement vous tendrez contens de tels gages […] que mondit seigneur vous ordonnera; ibid., p. 241: the duke himself devroit contendre de vivre du sien et moderer ses voulentés. On the difficulties encountered by late medieval princes in denying their courtiers and administrators gifts that diminished their domanial revenues, see W. Paravicini, “Administrateurs professionnels et princes dilettantes. Remarques sur un problème de sociologie administrative à la fin du Moyen Âge”, in K. Krüger (ed.), Menschen am Hof der Herzöge von Burgund, Stuttgart, Thorbecke, 2005, pp. 359-365.

53 J. Dumolyn, “Justice, Equity and the Common Good. The State Ideology of the Councillors of the Burgundian Dukes”, in D. J. Dacre Boulton, J. R. Veenstra (eds.), The Ideology of Burgundy. The Promotion of National Consciousness, 1364-1565, Leiden, Brill, 2006, pp. 1-20.

54 See the discussion of this ideal by J.-M. Cauchies, “‘Croit conseil’ et ses ‘ministres’. L’entourage politique de Philippe le Beau (1494-1506)”, in A. Marchandisse, J.-L. Kupper (eds.), À l’ombre du pouvoir. Les entourages princiers au Moyen Âge, Geneva, Droz, 2012, pp. 385-387.

55 R. Van Answaarden, “The Medieval Separation of Powers Defined by Charles the Bold (1473)”, Revue d’histoire du droit, 58, 1990, p. 401.

56 L. Scordia, “Le roi doit vivre du sien”. La théorie de l’impôt en France (xiiie-xve siècles), Paris, Institut d’études augustiniennes, 2005. On the reception of the notion of the inalienability of the ducal domain by the Burgundian government, which was rather late when compared to royal France (where this was already well accepted, theoretically at least, from the later 14th century, cf. G. Leyte, Domaine et domanialité publique dans la France médiévale [xiie-xve siècles], Strasbourg, Presses universitaires de Strasbourg, 1996, pp. 341-348), see J. Braekevelt, Pieter Bladelin, de Rijselse Rekenkamer en de stichting van Middelburg-in-Vlaanderen (ca. 1444-1472): de ambities van een opgeklommen hofambtenaar versus de bescherming van het vorstelijke domein, Brussels, Paleis der Academiën, 2012, pp. LXV-LXX.

57 J. Kervyn de Lettenhove, “Programme d’un gouvernement…”, op. cit., pp. 238, 248.

58 H. Krüse, W. Paravicini (eds.), Die Hofordnungen der Herzöge von Burgund, vol. 1: Herzog Philipp der Gute 1407-1467, Ostfildern, Thorbecke, 2005, p. 141, no. 10, § 5.

59 J. Van Rompaey, De Grote Raad van de hertogen van Boergondië en het Parlement van Mechelen, Brussels, Paleis der Academiën, 1973, pp. 18-28.

60 W. Blockmans, M.-A. Arnould, E. Strubbe, “Privilegie voor alle landen…”, op. cit., p. 90, § 1-2.

61 H. Krüse, W. Paravicini (eds.), Die Hofordnungen der Herzöge…, op. cit., pp. 141-142, § 6: at least Gautier de la Mandre or Jan Wielant were to be present at the ducal court at all times; both were native Flemings, see P. Cockshaw, Prosopographie des secrétaires de la cour de Bourgogne (1384-1477), Ostfildern, Thorbecke, 2006, pp. 61-62, 100-102.

62 For this ordinance, see archives départementales du Nord, France, série B, no. 1284/15.816bis; compare with J. Kervyn de Lettenhove, “Programme d’un gouvernement…”, op. cit., pp. 238-240. Apart from tackling similar issues such as corruption, the unfounded impetration of princely gifts, etc., the 1446 ordinance/oath also reveals its inspiration by fulfilling the stipulation in the memorandum from 1436-1438 that ledit serement soit publié par toutes les bonnes villes de ses pays [du duc] en lieu publique afin que chacun sache comment iceulx officiers et monseigneur doresenavant se veullent gouverner; in effect, the ducal ordinance of 1446 was mandatorily copied and read aloud at each yearly renewal of the Flemish aldermen’s benches and during the public audition of the urban accounts, see L. Gachard, Inventaire des archives des Chambres des Comptes, précédé d’une notice historique sur ces anciennes institutions, Brussels, Hayez, 1837, vol. 3, pp. 110-111, 175.

63 See J. Van Rompaey, Het grafelijk baljuwsambt in Vlaanderen tijdens de Boergondische periode, Brussels, Paleis der Academiën (Verhandelingen van de Koninklijke Vlaamse Academie voor Wetenschappen, Letteren en schone Kunsten van België), 1967, pp. 561-562, no. XXI.

64 W. Blockmans, E. Strubbe (eds.), “Privilegie voor het graafschap Vlaanderen, verleend door Maria, hertogin van Bourgondië, ter bekrachtiging van de klachten die de Staten haar hadden voorgelegd”, in W. Blockmans (ed.), Le privilège général…, op. cit., pp. 129-131, § 1-8.

65 W. Blockmans, M.-A. Arnould, E. Strubbe, “Privilegie voor alle landen…”, op. cit., p. 93, § 17.

66 J. Kervyn de Lettenhove, “Programme d’un gouvernement…”, op. cit., p. 244.

67 M.-A. Arnould, “Une estimation des revenus…”, op. cit., pp. 131-219.

68 J. Braekevelt, B. Lambert, “Bonnore Olivier, courtier ligurien de la fiscalité bourguignonne (1429-1466)”, Revue belge de philologie et d’histoire, 90, 2012, pp. 1155-1192.

69 J. Kervyn de Lettenhove, “Programme d’un gouvernement…”, op. cit., pp. 242-243, 249.

70 Which largely ended, for the remainder of the reign of Philip the Good, any noteworthy urban opposition to the Burgundian centralising efforts, see J. Haemers, De Gentse opstand, 1449-1453: de strijd tussen rivaliserende netwerken om het stedelijke kapitaal, Heule, UGA, 2004, pp. 387-422.

71 Which are among the first of their kind, see J.-M. Cauchies, “Les ordonnances dites ‘générales’ sous les ducs de Bourgogne: critères et questions autour d’une édition”, in G. Martyn (ed.), Le droit et la loi pendant l’Ancien Régime. Actes du colloque, Bruxelles 24.X.2011, Brussels, AGR, 2014, pp. 19-31.

72 One has been edited, see H. Krüse, W. Paravicini (eds.), Die Hofordnungen der Herzöge…, op. cit., pp. 337-342, no. 17; for the other, refer to the original preserved at the archives départementales du Nord, France, série B, no. 2013/61.111.

73 J. Braekevelt, Pieter Bladelin…, op. cit., pp. 63-70, no. 26.

74 Ibid., p. 68, § [X]: obligation to personally fulfil judicial offices and to hold local residence.

75 W. Blockmans, E. Strubbe (eds.), “Privilegie voor het graafschap Vlaanderen…”, op. cit., pp. 132-134, § 13 and 15; ibid., p. 141, § 41.

76 J. Braekevelt, Pieter Bladelin…, op. cit., p. 68.

77 W. Blockmans, M.-A. Arnould, E. Strubbe, “Privilegie voor alle landen…”, op. cit., p. 93, § 15.

78 W. Blockmans, “Patronage, Brokerage and Corruption as Symptoms of Incipient State Formation in the Burgundian-Habsburg Netherlands”, in A. Maczak (ed.), Klientelsysteme im Europa des Frühen Neuzeit, Munich, Oldenbourg, 1988, pp. 117-126.

79 R. Van Answaarden, “The Medieval Separation of Powers…”, op. cit., pp. 412-415. See similar comments on the role of the Paris parliament made by F. Cheyette, “La justice et le pouvoir royal à la fin du Moyen Âge français”, Revue historique de droit français et étranger, 40, 1962, pp. 393-394.

80 Ordinance of June 24, 1460, see Bibliothèque nationale de France, ms. fr., no. 5325, fol. 8 ro-vo. On the category of the Burgundian lettres de justice, see P. Godding, “Les lettres de justice, instrument du pouvoir central en Brabant (1430-1477)”, in Miscellanea Roger Petit, Brussels, Archief- en Bibliotheekwezen in België, 1990, pp. 385-402.

81 J. Van Rompaey, “Hofraad en Grote Raad in de hofordonnantie van 1 januari 1469”, in G. Asaert (ed.), Recht en instellingen in de oude Nederlanden tijdens de middeleeuwen en de nieuwe tijd. Liber amicorum Jan Buntinx, Leuven, Universitaire Pers, 1981, pp. 303-324.

82 M. Boone, “‘Want remitteren is princelijck’: Vorstelijk genaderecht en sociale realiteiten in de Bourgondische periode”, in L. Stockman, P. Vandermeersch (eds.), Liber Amicorum Achiel De Vos, Evergem, Gemeentebestuur Evergem, 1989, pp. 53-59.

83 Based on the corpus of the legislative acts of Philip the Good for the County of Flanders (1419-1467), see J. Braekevelt, Un prince de justice: Vorstelijke wetgeving, soevereiniteit en staatsvorming in het graafschap Vlaanderen tijdens de regering van Filips de Goede (1419-1467), PhD dissertation directed by M. Boone, Ghent University, 2013, Appendices I and IV. The expression appears 24 times in total (on 1540 ordinances): not once in the 1419-1430 period; only 4 times in the 1430-1439 timeframe (before the implementation of the proposed reforms of 1436-1438); 8 times before the 1454 ordinance mentioned above; and 12 times after 1454.

84 On this formula, see J.-M. Cauchies, La législation princière pour le comté de Hainaut. Ducs de Bourgogne et premiers Habsbourg (1427-1506), Brussels, Publications des Facultés universitaires Saint-Louis, 1982, pp. 159-161, and J. Braekevelt, “De waarde van de wet. De invloed van formele diplomatische kenmerken op de wetgeving van de Bourgondische hertogen voor het graafschap Vlaanderen”, in D. Heirbaut, X. Rousseaux, A. Wijffels (eds.), Justitie- en rechtsgeschiedenis: een nieuwe onderzoeksgeneratie. Akten van het Belgisch-Nederlands Rechtshistorisch Colloquium, Louvain-la-Neuve, Publications du centre d’histoire du droit et de la justice, 2009, pp. 225-226.

85 J. Braekevelt, Pieter Bladelin…, op. cit., pp. CXXXVIII-CXXXIX.

86 See W. Blockmans, “‘Crisme de leze magesté’. Les idées politiques de Charles le Téméraire”, in J.-M. Duvosquel, J. Nazet, A. Vanrie (eds.), Les Pays-Bas bourguignons. Histoire et institutions. Mélanges André Uyttebrouck, Brussels, Archives et bibliothèques de Belgique, 1996, pp. 71-81.

87 P.-C. Timbal, “Les lettres de marque dans le droit de la France médiévale”, Recueils de la Société Jean Bodin, 10, 1958, pp. 118-119.

88 W. Blockmans, E. Strubbe (eds.), “Privilegie voor het graafschap Vlaanderen…”, op. cit., § 22-23, 29, 41.

89 See H. Krause, “Dauer und Vergänglichkeit im mittelalterlichen Recht”, Zeitschrift der Savigny-Stiftung für Rechtsgeschichte – Germanistische Abteilung, 75, 1958, pp. 206-251.

90 In 1458 Guillaume Fillastre, bishop of Tournai and head of the ducal council, had stated that, among other rights, the duke had the possibility to donner previleges, qui sont drois de seigneurie et de haulteur supreme et absolute, consistans en voulenté de prince, cf. bibliothèque municipale de Saint-Omer, ms. 803, vol. 7, pp. 300-317. The French royal government of Louis XI would later contest this right and state that, exactly because the Burgundian dukes were no sovereigns, they could not issue any formal privileges, see O. Mattéoni, “‘Couronne en forme sphérique ne se peut diviser sans perdre sa figure’. Une leçon sur la souveraineté monarchique. Le procès des officiers du duc de Bourbon devant le Parlement de Paris en 1480”, in Y.-M. Bercé (ed.), Les procès politiques (xive-xviie siècle), Rome, École française de Rome, 2007, pp. 171-173.

91 W. Blockmans, “Du contrat féodal…”, op. cit., pp. 137-140.

92 H. Blom, “The Great Privilege (1477) as ‘Code of Dutch Freedom’: the Political Role of Privileges in the Dutch Revolt and after”, in B. Dölemeyr, H. Mohnhaupt (eds.), Das Privileg im europäischen Vergleich, Frankfurt, Klostermann, 1997, vol. 2, pp. 233-247.

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